In Defense Of Texting And Driving


At least five times per morning I hear this awful ad on the radio “my son is paralyzed because some dumb girl was texting and driving and hit him.” This is very sad and I am sorry for your loss. However, I am trying to get out of bed, I really don’t need an extra serving of malaise right now.

All the “don’t text and drive ads” are just so supremely negative. Bad things happen to people all the time, and having a very negative message about how to fix it just bums everyone out more than it causes real desire for change. We are rational beings, you can explain to me that this is a problem without going for the jugular. No one appreciates having their emotions manipulated.

Shame is a terrible motivator. These ads always include some snippet about how trivial the actual text that was being sent was. Is the text “on my way!” worth ruining a person’s life? Of course it isn’t! There’s not a person on the planet that is arguing with you about that. Don’t act as if that the contentious point, as if the person that hit your son did it because they made a decision that an egregious text was more important than his life.

If you really care about reducing car accidents where people are texting and driving you should probably consider that texting and driving is inevitable. We are past the point of no return on this one. There is no point in saying “you can’t look at your phone for 30 minutes,” because that is just impossible for some people to do. If you care about making the roads safer, the best thing you can do is figure out how help people do this safely.

Can we encourage people to take a look at their screen when they are at a stoplight and keep their phone face down and out of sight for the rest of their drive? Get an app that reads your texts and emails out loud to you as they come in, so you know you aren’t missing anything? Make it easier to pull over for a minute to respond? We’re losing people with this all or nothing business, it’s impractical.

Hating texting and driving is like hating globalization. You can have whatever opinion you want to, but at a certain point you can’t keep swimming upstream. You need to harness the flow rather than wasting your energy trying to stop the inevitable.

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image –Alan Cleaver